Nicole Block designs stationery from her home in Brooklyn, where she draws inspiration from the people, architecture, and culture around her. Also hanging with her in the big borough? Her daily coworker, two-year-old daughter Anna Jae, whose main work responsibilities are to keep Nic laughing, grounded, and hip to some of the latest musical guests on Sesame Street. Check out Nic's (and Anna's!) upbeat playlist.
What do you listen to while you work? I have a wide variety of music tastes, but I need to make sure when I'm working that nothing is too mellow. I work mostly late hours (8pm to 3am), so I need to stay awake! Mellow won't do. I put away my Badly Drawn Boy, my Jack Johnson, some of my fave females, and I turn up the upbeat and happy. It ranges from Ben Folds to Classic R&B to 80's music to current dance music. Complete with plenty of guilty pleasures to keep me singing and dancing in my chair.
How do you listen? Computer. If my family is still awake, I'll pop in the headphones. But otherwise, I like to just use my computer as my sound system. If my computer is running really slow because of a large file or something, I might switch over to my phone.
Do you have any favorite music websites/providers? Pandora all the way. I almost don't listen to my own bought music anymore while I work, because I like a wide variety. So I have my Boy George radio station on Pandora, in a quick mix with my CeeLo and Ben Folds and Cake stations. Makes me smile.
Does music influence your work? I don't know if it specifically influences my work, but I think my personality is easily reflected in both. I'm quirky. I have a good sense of humor, and I like to draw (no pun intended) from people and their quirks. So my music choices are quirky. I'm happy, I make [mostly] happy things, and my music while I work is happy. I am not an artist that pulls from hurt or anger, never have been, so my music is almost never moody or angry.
Who influences your musical taste? I do find that I don't have as much music knowledge as I used to, since I work by myself and I'm with a two-year-old the majority of the time. Other than guests on Sesame Street, I don't know that much about current music, and that doesn't do much for my street cred! But my husband often comes home with something new, or my best friend may hound me on a new album for a while (yes, that's how I found Florence and the Machine). And then there's always Pandora, which really does help me out. I put in one band I know and love, and discover 30 more. It's fabulous for us lonely parents!
What song or artist best represents the work you create? Oh my goodness! What a question! I'm not nearly cool enough to answer this one… OK, I've mentioned him a few times already, but I really identify with Ben Folds. Every album really speaks to me. He's great at telling stories about regular people, stories that might make you laugh or cry or think, and the music that he writes for his lyrics is just amazing. His piano is fantastic; his voice is melodic but approachable…
Ben Folds made me want to name my daughter Gracie after hearing his song (we came close—Anna means "grace"), and "The Luckiest" is the one my husband chose for our wedding song. He really hits on the minutia that makes life what it is. I feel like Ben Folds is to music how I long to be to illustration/stationery. I want to tell the smaller stories, the detailed one—the ones that strike a chord and make you smile and touch on real life.
NIC’S WORK PLAYLIST
One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces, Ben Folds Five
Forget You, Cee Lo
(Night Time Is) The Right Time, Ray Charles
Stronger, Kanye West
Everybody Wants To Rule The World, Tears for Fears
Dog Days Are Over, Florence and the Machine
Sir Duke, Stevie Wonder
Just Like Heaven, The Cure
It’s OK, Cee Lo
Groove Is In the Heart, Deee-Lite
Personal Jesus, Depeche Mode
You Don’t Know Me, Ben Folds and Regina Spektor
Foundations, Kate Nash
Paper Planes, MIA
Images: Nicole Block